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Messages - Gary James

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Off Topic / Re: Day of Chaos 2: a.Covid-19 thread.
« on: 13 March, 2020, 11:43:50 PM »
For those with friends or relatives who are not taking precautions, perhaps a better way of looking at their actions is that of a coping mechanism - by changing their routine, and accepting that there are significant risk factors involved with crowds and so on, their fear of catching Covid-19 (or, really, any bug doing the rounds) might increase. By maintaining a pattern of behavior which conforms to prior expectations they are simply dealing with events as best they can.

Many older people, having lived through other events of significant disruption, can have a "keep buggering on" attitude - in other circumstances this would be laudable. Don't view their stubborn refusal to follow guidelines as some sort of a death wish, as I'm certain that this isn't going to be the case for most people.

For years I have been mocked for compulively washing my hands, but the reason for OCD now becomes clear - this is how the I'm going to get through the next few months (hopefully) unscathed. I can't afford to catch anything, least of all Captain Trips.

Books & Comics / Re: The Cimmerian - Ablaze Comics
« on: 13 March, 2020, 08:59:32 PM »
The new Marvel stuff is toothless and bland and the whole making him immortal and then putting him in the modern day Marvel universething is just awful.
Someone at Marvel really likes Archer and Armstrong. At least Marvel didn't give Conan an alien suit of armor, which would have been the icing on the cake...

We should be grateful that The Man From Earth didn't get a Marvel comic adaptation...

Film & TV / Re: Last movie watched...
« on: 13 March, 2020, 07:28:55 PM »
The Avatar Press adaptation of the script, titled Frank Miller's RoboCop rather than RoboCop 2 for some reason, does a slightly better job than the film of telling the story, though isn't without problems of its own.

And RoboCop 2 is still far better than the abysmal reboot.

Film & TV / Re: Last movie watched...
« on: 13 March, 2020, 10:09:42 AM »
Thinking out loud, so take what follows as it is...

The problem with anthology films - going all the way back to the Amicus run of films at least, if not all the way to the thirties when the format began - is that the narrative stops every so often and has to rebuild its momentum, and there really is no way around that without maintaining the central core of characters (which is slightly cheating the format). It is interesting to compare and contrast critical reception to comic anthologies, short story collections, and film anthologies, and see how vastly more difficult it is to pull off on the big screen than in other media.

Given that narrative film originally took most of its cues from the stage (at least in France and the US) it isn't at all surprising that the Aristotelian unities were folded into the melange of influences, traditions, and conceits - although it quickly developed into its own thing, that early ideology persists to this day in much arthouse fare.

Due to anthologies abruptly stopping and starting, with entirely new casts in many cases (V/H/S largely works, strangely, because of its acknowledgement of the media format it focuses on) that unity is not only broken, but completely shattered. While I'm not saying that films work better if there is a core driving narrative, it does seem to indicate that audiences have been trained by repeated film viewing to expect a cohesive through-line.

Comics come from the literary tradition, which has always had anthologies, so readers are prepared for there to be more latitude in how a narrative unfolds. Oddly (at least to me) radio seems to be the best media outside the printed page for the anthology format, which probably harkens back to oral tradition (which informs literary tradition) having prepared audiences for digressions, asides, and complete breaks from the story at hand.


Though I've not been scoring films as I've watched them (which is slightly too anoraky even for me), I have been keeping track of the joys and disappointments of what I've been watching... My strike rate is waaaay down, and it looks as if I'm going to cover more awful films taking into consideration reviews.

I like Borley Rectory, even though it looks like it was shot for sixpence and a bag of humbugs (which is somehow appropriate), and the cast is excellent. There are moments where the clever artiness is slightly too explicit - and there are a few scenes, such as a character looking straight up through a broken pane of glass, which don't work - but overall it is the best take (which isn't a book) on the subject.

There are important things missing, and the footage which was shot of the ruins - where you can see the rooms laid out on the ground - ought to have been included at the end as a coda, but it is a difficult film to criticize due to the obvious love for the subject on display.

I really dislike Last Christmas. I could spend a few thousand words listing each and every hoary old cliche brought out to play, and all the ways it insults its audience, but it is far easier to simply state that I would rather stab myself in the eye with a rusty spoon than sit through it again. Fantastic cast, but the script...  :'( The one thing it leaves me with is a fascination for Emilia Clarke's eyebrows, which is surely not the intention of the film.

There were no high expectations for The Mummy (Tom Cruise version) nor Gemini Man, but even so...

The Mummy is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. There isn't a scene which works perfectly in the entire film, and it lurches from set-piece to set-piece with all the grace of a drunken sailor. For someone who was practically raised on classic horror films it isn't merely a disgrace to the genre but an insult to the memory of Boris Karloff.

Gemini Man is slightly better, though that's like saying that losing a finger is marginally more appealing than losing an arm. Some of the effects are extremely bad, and the lauded de-ageing technology is more unconvincing than in some other films of the recent past. It also takes far, far too many plot points from better films and stories of the last twenty years. Why it felt like a project intended for Jean-Claude Van Damme eludes me, but that's my overall impression.

Off Topic / Re: Day of Chaos Film Club
« on: 12 March, 2020, 11:27:43 PM »
Cabin Fever. The original, obviously.
The Crazies - both versions, though the first is superior.

There's also Contagion, which has a far better plot than Outbreak, but is probably too close to the truth to make for comfortable viewing at the moment. I may be the only person to like it, but Doomsday is massive fun. Far from intelligent, but that's what makes it so amusing.

I'd also throw in the mini-series The Stand as that has some wonderful moments. Ropey as hell, but given the budget they had to work with...

There's likely half a dozen Fulci films which would also fit the bill. :D

General / Re: How old is Dredd currently
« on: 12 March, 2020, 11:12:11 PM »
Why rebellion haven't licensed a game of operation with Judge Dredd at its core, is beyond me.
If anyone revamps Operation they desperately need to fix the awful buzzer sound. That always got on my nerves, and the Wilhelm scream would be far more appropriate anyways. Add in little electric motors to make Dredd shake uncontrollably at the same time the scream is emitted and it would be perfect...

Film & TV / Re: Patrick Stewart back as Picard in new series
« on: 12 March, 2020, 10:29:44 PM »
Mind you the lost me much earlier when the Soji replicant, after inferring the entirety of Borg technology at a glance, didn't know what a compass was.  ::)
So-called experts aboard various ships bearing the name Enterprise have massive gaps in their knowledge of their specialist fields, with the most blatant example probably being Trip - at least the show is being faithful to the franchise's history with that...

Any Trek fan who didn't get the warm fuzzies after that episode has a cold black heart.
*checks heart*

There is the same inconsistent characterization that the show has been pushing (Picard is a dick, then the noble former Starfleet officer we know, then he's a dick, then he's massively erratic, then he's back to being upstanding again), the tech on display at a private residence is apparently solid enough to repel the Tal Shiar (a planetary government's secret agency, which had access to vast resources) should it come to that, and Riker makes pizza, which is... plain weird.

At least he didn't play the saxophone.

As for the dead children backstory... Holy shit, is this show ever managing to come up with new and frustrating ways to make sheer enjoyment - the "kick back and enjoy great spectacle" kind of enjoyment - really, really difficult. Every time I start to relax into things there is a moment which sticks out so badly and uncomfortably against the canvas of a universe built up over decades that I can't help but think "why are you punishing us so?" That plot point merely reinforces that the decision to ban artificial lifeforms was a mistake - it wasn't needed in the script given the other things presented.

I have an emotional response to the subject, too, which is why I'm not dismissive of it. We've lost a baby and came too close to losing another the day they were born.
Sorry to hear that.

The death of a child is a subject which is important for fiction to cover, but Picard (as I see it) didn't set up enough groundwork, nor prepare the audience in any way, to justify the inclusion of that (frankly bizarre) revelation. When something such as that is dropped into an episode it often smacks of sensationalism rather than considered character development.

I've got to admit to a sneaking admiration for the writing staff's boldness in not having the ninja efl - sorry, I meant Elnor - follow Picard for the duration. It would have been far too pleasing to have him accompany Picard, allowing for some interesting dialogue about truth in light of what Riker had to say about Picard's tenure as captain. There are whole books devoted to the nature of identity and self in Star Trek, and Picard's inability to see himself in the way his crew did (and still does) feels at odds with what the various shows have put forward over the years about humanity progressing in self-understanding.

Books & Comics / Re: Whats everyone reading?
« on: 12 March, 2020, 09:39:57 PM »
Just read Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie and really, really enjoyed it.
People don't often give SF credit for being classy, but damn is that ever a classy book. Far, far deeper than any synopsis would give the writing credit for, and so subtle in places that it really feels as if there is a whole thought-out galaxy spinning around the characters as events unfold.

Off Topic / Re: 500 Days of Slimmer - and Some Other Crap Too...
« on: 01 March, 2020, 12:26:55 AM »
Been on a no chocolate, bread or Haribo diet since Tenerife and have only shifted about 3lbs.
Cutting certain foods from your diet is no guarantee that you will see immediate results - don't focus too much on the specific amount of weight, and concentrate more on how you feel overall. It really isn't the foods themselves that can cause problems, but the garnish which is added without a second thought. Snipping back salt intake (which can be more difficult than it sounds) and getting rid of extra sugar in a diet is more important than depriving yourself of anything you like. And all that will accomplish is you getting a craving for what is on the banned list. Everything in moderation.  :)

We are moving house on the 10th so takeaways will need to be avoided.
Sultanas. You can laugh all you want, but if I didn't have a big 1lb bag of the damned things beside me at all times I would be munching on chocolate. All. Day. Long. Works out far cheaper in the long run as well, so it is worth buying a couple of bags a week. There are some, uh... side effects.

I did half watch the remake of 'Whisky Galore' and 'Wrong is Right' but haven't gotten round to finishing either.
There's a remake of Wisky Galore?  :o ...why? Actually, I think I'm going to deliberately miss out on that as it'll merely provoke a few thousand words of ranting at the state of modern cinema.

Bag 50 Munros in total : Parked until the Summer but likely sherpas have been identified!
Any Munro in particular taking your fancy?

If you see any of my workouts outlined, please - given that you have a heart condition - sail straight past them. Don't even read them. As soon as I mention that I'm going out for a run you should zip straight onto the next subject.

General / Re: Life Spugs because...
« on: 29 February, 2020, 10:18:07 PM »
I think I've read somewhere that it's moments like that which inspired Dredd (and other hard-line police from Wagner) in the first place...
All that's coming up on Google is page after page of The Bling Ring, which is irrelevant, but...

About thirty (?) years ago there was a comedian who was burgled, and the feelings from that event was used in the creation of a show, so there's plenty of precedent for these things to spur on works. Pretty sure that at least a few of the revenge movies of the eighties could trace their origins back to a real crime their scriptwriters suffered as well.

Off Topic / Re: It's a bit warm/ wet/ cold outside
« on: 29 February, 2020, 10:09:00 PM »
Sometimes I think comments to articles are just wind ups.
Depends on both the site and the page in question. A great many of the comments might be offensive for the sake of being offensive, the posters not realizing that there's a qualitative difference between some random asshole on the internet and George Carlin.

At least I bloody hope so or this world is more fucked than I want to imagine.
There's enough hopeful things on the internet to balance out the awful (or, at the very least, to mitigate some of the worst), and the loudest voices aren't necessarily that of the majority. Yes, there are utterly vile, destructive, malicious trolls making a nuisance of themselves, but there are people who are really amazing. And not everyone is even on the internet.

I'm giving humanity the benefit of the doubt. We're good. There's enough people doing things which are inspirational, heartwarming, and life-affirming to show up the nihilistic ramblings of a few idiots for what they are. Having said that, it is 2020 and I am still having to point out that racism / sexism / ageism / whatever else is not cool, so the message isn't sinking in to a few people out there.

Sometimes those comments might be automatically added as well. People have bots for all kinds of things, so a few screens of similar comments might only be one person, amplifying their anger and impotence through technological means.

General / Re: how to do a prog slog
« on: 29 February, 2020, 02:41:07 PM »
It may not have been intended to actually see print as is - one of those things writers stick in, expecting editors to do thier job and change the offending words - but there's something very amusing about the name Lamrox appearing on the cover. This is far too close to 'lame rocks' (as in "not having the stones") to be entirely unintentional.

Film & TV / Re: Batman in Weegeeville!
« on: 28 February, 2020, 08:27:24 PM »
Still amazes me that we've not had a proper, full-on adaptation of Batman Year One.
Darren Aronofsky tried to make it happen, with Frank Miller as screenwriter no less. A remarkably good animated adaptation already exists, so it is unlikely that anyone has a strong urge to do a live-action version as well.

Off Topic / Re: It's a bit warm/ wet/ cold outside
« on: 28 February, 2020, 08:16:47 PM »
Our shithouse media is not shining a light on this, they're making sure it gets the platform the oil lobby wants it to have.
My niece is a little bit younger than Greta. She sees the climate as one among a number of things which needs setting straight post haste, which coupled with having no fear of speaking her mind makes me slightly nervous about where the world is headed - when she gets an idea into her head she's going to damn well make sure everyone knows what she thinks.

It is really chilling that there are people who think going after children this way is a reasonable course of action. It is properly terrifying that there's enough support in the hinterlands of the internet that the shit who created that image is, at this very moment, likely being celebrated - and no, I don't have the will or a burning need to see if that is actually the case. I'd really rather not.

Good gods, I hope there's a jail sentence at the end of this. Wankers, fecking wankers.

Up to a maximum of twenty years. It is unlikely, in this instance, to be as much as that, but still...

Off Topic / Re: It's a bit warm/ wet/ cold outside
« on: 28 February, 2020, 02:55:43 PM »
Surely cartoons depicting sexual assault on a 17 year old are against the law?
Yes. Better than that - now the image is circulating on the internet, and is very likely hosted on servers outside Canada, whoever created it is going to have multiple authorities going after them, not just Canadian police.

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